As we have learn in the past year in the discussions we have had in this blog, given the current state of our technology and knowledge we cannot have certainty with regard to matters outside our space and time.  The implication for Christianity is that we cannot have absolute proof for the existence of God, for the Bible as the word of God, and for the resurrection of Jesus.  For many, this is sufficient reason to discard belief in Christianity.  The problem with this approach is that there is not a single belief system in the world, including agnosticism and atheism, which does not face the same dilemma.  No one can prove the validity of their belief system.  That is just the human condition.

Dr. James F. Sennett observes the various belief systems of the world have rational parity which means for every problem one raises about a particular belief, there is an equal and opposite problem for the opposing beliefs. [1] If we decide to change our belief system, we might resolve a few issues but we will acquire a different set of questions.  We will simply exchange one set of problems for another.

Dr. Sennett also points out another problem with beliefs:  Most of our beliefs are not under our control.  “We simply form beliefs as a direct result of experiences we undergo and evidence we consider.” [2]  Another person with very different experiences and considering very different evidences could come to a very different belief system than I would.  For example, I am taking a class in Business Ethics.  One of our assignments was to interview someone very different that us.  I chose to interview an atheist.  The person I interviewed was raised in the Christian community and went to a Bible college just like I did.  He told me he did not want to be an atheist but he was driven to that belief by rational thought.  In some ways he sounded like a Christian in quoting various people, in describing scientific results, and in citing history to support his point of view.  However, his different life experiences led him to a very different belief system than I had.

Another example of the fact that our beliefs are not totally under our control is the question of whether we can convince ourselves that Abraham Lincoln was never the president of the United States?  Can we convince ourselves that World War II never happened?  Much of what we believe is dependant upon the culture and age in which we live.  We simply cannot and do not control much of what we believe.

Given all the problems with beliefs, do beliefs matter?  Beliefs do matter.  In my interview with the atheist, he brought up the point that if you believe the world will end in 10 years, you will not be very concerned about the environment.  If you believe Allah will send you to heaven with 72 virgins if you kill infidels, then you will kill infidels and your belief system will matter, particularly to those who you kill.  William Clifford states that our beliefs eventually become our actions; our beliefs influence others and succeeding generations. [3]

While our beliefs do matter, it is apparent they are not what is ultimately important.


[1]   James F. Sennett, The Reluctant Disciple:  A Postmodern Apologetic (an unpublished book), chapter 3, pp. 1-2.

[2]   Sennett, chapter 3, pp. 12-13.

[3]   A. J. Berger, Editor.  The Ethics of Belief (Lexington, KY:  Self published, 2008

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